Blogs | Sports | News
Dejan Kovacevic's Blog

Pittsburgh sports talk with the Trib columnist

Wakeup Call: No mention here of Bautista

Some sporting thoughts before sunrise …

>> I am told that the best hitter in baseball plays for the Blue Jays, the Pirates’ opponent tonight in Toronto. But I am guessing you already knew that, so we can move on, right?

>> Alex Presley is up, and it’s almost certain that he’s going to get thrust right into things, with Jose Tabata out for a while. That’s fine. If Presley performs anywhere close to what he did in Indianapolis, an outfield with him, Andrew McCutchen and Xavier Paul still offers speed, defense and some on-base percentage.

But neither Presley nor anyone else internally compensates for the lack of power in this lineup. It might be tempting for management to try to wait out Pedro Alvarez and/or Ryan Doumit, but that’s ducking the duty. It might be too late.

Help is needed right away.

>> The Penguins’ stated claim in cutting Tyler Kennedy loose yesterday — they did not make a qualifying offer with the mandatory 10 percent raise, thus making him an unrestricted free agent — was that they feel there is a better chance of getting a deal that way.

Sorry, but that’s wishful thinking.

I’m not doubting management’s genuine wish to keep Kennedy, but they have to know that a player on the open market is going to hear all kinds of promises and be offered much more money. It’s easy for teams to play the loyalty card when players are talking only to their people. But once a team like, say, the Panthers offer more money, a spot on the first-unit power play, and a swell house on the Fort Lauderdale waterfront, hey, you’re taking your talents to South Beach.

>> I am equally unswayed by Ray Shero’s claim that the Kennedy and Jaromir Jagr situations are not related to each other.


Kennedy was non-qualified on the same day Shero was getting set to talk to Jagr’s agent and make what might be a take-it-or-leave-it offer, one that needs to be both respectable and yet responsible enough to keep Mike Rupp and Pascal Dupuis. (I’m still saying $2 million gets it done.) If Kennedy were qualified, that process would have been a whole lot messier.

I trust Shero that the dollars were far apart on Kennedy. I just think all this is too much of a coincidence.

>> I am more convinced today than yesterday that Jagr will return. And I was mostly convinced yesterday.

>> The NFL players union is conducting an introductory camp for its rookies this week in, of all places, Bradenton, Fla. Same place were the Pirates do the same thing for their kids year-round. Not much catches my attention anymore when I leave the NFL Network on as background music, but that did.


  1. Brendan says:


    You mentioned the notion of acquiring a bat in an earlier blog post. I’m curious as to what sort of scenario you view as realistic.

    My feeling is that if the Pirates are still in contention after the All Star break, which would be extraordinarily to say the least, I’d be in favor of them pursuing a bat with a few caveats.

    1. That they don’t give up any assets that are key to their long term success.
    2. They don’t take on large commitments to a player that would extend beyond a year maybe two, unless they’re acquiring someone truly elite, which is unlikely unless their willing to mortgage the farm, which strikes me as imprudent to say the least as noted in caveat 1.

    That said I’m assuming that were it up to you a bat would be added in either RF or at 1B, as those are the spots that have been most inconsistent offensively, and which unlike 3B or C have no internal option. Am I correct?

    What strikes me as most realistic is a trade for who has a year, maybe two left on a contract that’s burdensome to a team out of contention, with the Pirates picking up the entire tab and sending back several second tier prospects in return. Something similar to the Snyder trade last year but perhaps giving up a bit more in return?

    The question then is what players would fit that bill? Here are few that might:

    Carlos Pena, Ryan Ludwick, Josh Willingham, David DeJesus, Luke Scott, Melky Cabrera, Jeff Francoeur.

    None of those names excite, nor do I imagine they do too many other folks. For the most part they’d be to varying to degrees minor upgrades, perhaps. But those are for the most part the only players on teams more than likely to be out of contention sooner rather than later who would fit the above criteria. That strikes me as one of the difficulties this year, there’s a greater number of teams clustered around 500 and who are still in contention and likely will be for the next month (certainly this may well change, but it does seem that in general teams are bunched more tightly than in recent years past) so there are fewer trader partners, increasing the value of even those players.

    Scanning the standings a little further, there are indeed a handful of players other teams who are mired at the bottom of the standings or financially distressed that would be clear upgrades on the field. But the price would be much higher (both in compensation and/or the salary taken on), if the teams were even willing to deal them

    Hunter Pence, Andre Ethier, Carlos Beltran, etc

    The Marlins, appear the moment to be out of it as well but don’t think your or I see them parting with Logan Morrison or Mike Stanton.

    So my question is would you consider one of the players from the first group a suitable addition? What would you be willing it give up in return for a bat?

    Of course all of this is still theoretical as we’re not quite to the half way point and I think their are legitimate questions about whether or not the Pirates can continue pitching as they have. My fingers are certainly crossed that they defy those odds though.

    Interested to hear your thoughts.


  2. Sec.143RowMSeat24 says:

    I keep hearing people speculating that Presley will DH, that’s ridiculous right? He has to be a better defensive option than Jones, and definitely Diaz. I see the same thing, Presley, Cutch and Paul, as the best OF options.

  3. JAL says:

    A few morning links

    Ohio Valley Athletics

    Hurdle Instills a Winning Mindset

  4. JAL says:


    The Platoon Advantage’s Hypothetical Expansion Draft

  5. JAL says:

    Sports Illustrated

    1971 Pittsburgh Pirates (Related Stories)

  6. Brendan says:

    Yikes, lots of typos. That’s what I get for posting during the wee hours I suppose.

  7. Curt says:

    Its interesting to speculate where the Pirates should strengthen their lineup.
    I think they need to look for help in right and/or first base.
    Ideally it would be great to snag Andre Ethier or Hunter Pence.
    I can see them go the easy route and say Pedro and Doumit are the solutions.
    Dejan, Have you talked to the FO lately about the trade deadline? Curious what the response would be about needing a bat.

  8. Buckeyehba says:

    No that Alvarez has started baseball activites, how long will it take for him to get back to the major league club? I would think he will be here no later than the start up after the all star break. I can’t decide if I am looking forward to this, or dreading it.

  9. BuccoJax says:

    I have heard people say that the Pirates were dumb for losing Joey Bats to Toronto, but I want someone to look at me with a straight face and tell me that they knew a quasi-starter-utility-bench guy for the worst team in the league was going to suddenly become one of the most feared hitters in the league, as soon as he got a change of scenery. His success if completely uncanny, and to be honest I figured last year was a fluke… Batista never hit more than about10 HRs in Pittsburgh per season, and he never indicated he would exceed that. He always looked played like someone who was holding a spot for the next guy in line.

    No reason to feel ashamed or lost on the trade. Besides we’re used to bad trades. This one though could never have been seen coming. Anyone who claims they knew it was going to happen better play the Powerball this week, and while you’re at it give me the scores to the next 3 Super Bowls!

  10. ExileInDC says:

    I disagree with the notion that every MLB team has to fall under “buyer” or “seller” in July. Looking at Brendan’s options above, I wouldn’t want the Pirates to risk much on anybody buy Ethier or Pence, and then I am sure the price would be far, far too high. The other options all look like names from last winter’s pool of free agents from which the Pirates netted Overbay and Diaz. I am fine with them jettisoning both of those guys in favor of keeping Presley and giving more time to Pierce when he returns. But “adding a bat” is a crapshoot at best for a team with modest human resources like the Bucs.

  11. Comet Littlefield says:

    Good morning All – my first post on DK’s Blog over here…

    I’m having a hard to time coming up with a scenario where the Pirates can add a decent bat without overpaying.

    I’m THINKING that I MIGHT of the opinion that PERHAPS the Pirates COULD wait it out to get closer to the trade deadline to make a move when they could have more leverage. If they can continue to tread water for another 3 weeks with what they have and MAYBE get Doumit and Alvarez back and contributing, this COULD be the best path to take.

    Not like there’s some IF’s in there…

  12. JoeBucco says:

    @DK – what’s the latest with getting inline replies turned on here? I hate to keep asking, but there are a couple of really easy updates those guys can make to improve the blog (from a technical perspective) by a lot.

    Also, considering our need at the catcher position right now, any chance we see Robinzon Diaz behind the plate for this series? ;)

  13. Drew71 says:

    some thoughts:

    – I am FINALLY convinced that the Pens will sign Jagr. i WASN’T before. And one of the main reasons i AM is MONEY. Forget the annual salary. Jagr doesn’t require the long term commitment that Kennedy does. For a team not awash in cash, with a core of players guaranteed (just) through the 2011-12 campaign (at least all together), Jagr’s salary drops OFF the books JUST as they need more flexibility. AND…he helps the team as much as Kennedy – maybe still more, depending on what he has left – during this last year with all the core. Yes, lots of other history / rewrite history reasons, personal relationship, etc. Those are important but to me, they just open the door. It is the financial factor that WILL make this work. Cutting ties with Kennedy demonstrated the importance of this financial factor. (That is NOT a complaint. They are NOT the Pirates.)

    – I’ve been screaming, begging, panting for the Pirates to trade for another bat. A REAL bat. A POWER bat. One of those overpriced, last-year-of-contract-but-still-something-left guys from underperforming teams looking to dump salary. Pena, Beltran, whoever. So of course i AGREE with Dejan’s call to get it done now. In a perfect world. So what does THAT foreshadowing mean??? Just this: The other team has to be ready, believe it’s season is over, be willing to dump a bloated contract of a guy who is actually performing reasonably well. Pena’s 16 HRs this season and, over the last 14 days, .275 average and 1.160 OPS. Beltran’s .852 OPS this season with 10 HRs, 33 X base hits and .278 average. While just two examples, and there are others. One of these examples provides the reason for caution. Beltran. The Mets. The Mets are not likely to have given up on the season. So debt aside, being in the NY market, can they start dumping when they have almost a Pirate-like 39-39 record? I would guess not yet. And yes, i SEE that they are 9.5 back in the East. So maybe reasonably soon. Just not yet. They’d get slaughtered in the NY market if they do it now. THAT’S what will make it tough for the PIRATES to do it NOW. Most teams have NOT given up. YET.

    – Bradenton? The NFL Players Union picked Bradenton? Did they get a deal at the 14th Street Super 8? Bradenton??? Not Bradenton BEACH? Have you SEEN Bradenton? Well, of course you have. (The Courtyard, McKechnie, Pirate City, Popi’s, and the Starbucks. Period.) With all respect to my Bradenton “neighbors”, of all places in Florida, BRADENTON? They could have also picked Jay, Florida, inland, on the Alabama border, home of Florida’s largest oil refinery. BRADENTON???

  14. Drew71 says:

    Just thought I’d let you all know that I’m starting my new job next week with the Bradenton Chamber of Commerce.

  15. AJS says:

    @DK,You suggest that the Pirates go and get a bat now and not wait out Alvarez and Doumit. I agree to an extent, but who’s selling for a price worth paying? They are going to have to ride it out until after the break and then start talking serious. By the time the deadlin rolls around they will probably have both of those guys back. So they should be shooting for a SS, RF, and 1B. Maybe they could draw a Derrik Lee from the O’s or JJ Hardy from the O’s. I’d love to have Hunter Pence but I think they’d have to sell the farm to get him.

  16. Mark says:

    While part of me would like to see the Pirates go out and try to aquire a quality major league bat, I really think that might be easier said than done. The list of good, available, hitters is not that long and the ones that are don’t come with big question marks of their own. Beltran (who might be the safest bet in terms of production) has a full no-trade clause. Pena, as good as he’s been the last 2 weeks, was awful for the first 2.5 months. Even now, he’s still hitting in the .220’s and striking out a ton. His power numbers only resurfaced ten games ago, which is a really small sample size. His SLG% on June 14 was .381 which isn’t really awe-inspiring. The established good players like Pence and Ethier would likely come at a REALLY high price and as much as I hate to say it, I don’t think this year’s team is good enough to mortgage the future by giving up several good prospects to get a guy like Andre Ethier for a year and a half.

    I’m not saying that it can’t, won’t, or shouldn’t be done, only that it’s not as easy as many seem to believe or hope that it is.

  17. Dave says:

    I like the Royals as a possible trade partner. I think Melky Cabrera might be an upgrade over what we have in RF, but he’s young enough that the Royals might want to try to keep him. Depending on how Presley plays, the OF might be getting crowded.

    Francoeur would be a serviceable player as well. Neither player represents a huge upgrade, but we might be able to swing a deal where we only give up some mid-ranked pitching depth, which is fine by me. Not sure what the Royals want, but it might also be worth finally going for Jeff Francis (seems we’ve been linked to him for two or three years now). Wilson Betemit is another Royal who wouldn’t be an amazing acquisition but could be a solid addition for some versatility and OPS.

    I hate to indulge in wishful thinking, but the Royals might be a good suitor if we can get them to take some of our current MLB players who aren’t living up to expectations/hopes. In other words, after this “roster evaluation” is done, it’s possible that d’Arnaud and/or Presley can force the case that they deserve to be playing everyday. With our injured players returning in a little over a month, this leaves us with a bit of a roster crunch (although it’s quantity and not necessarily quality). If Presley can stick, that probably pushes Jones to 1B more regularly, and Paul seems like a much better option that Diaz, the latter’s right-handedness notwithstanding. If d’Arnaud can move to SS and play good defense, Cedeno could be on the outs. Depending on what happens, this leaves several players in limbo around the deadline — Overbay, Cedeno, Diaz, Paul, Wood, and Jones. Obviously none of those guys will garner much in a trade, but if we can substitute in an adequate RH bat from the Royals, we might be able to open up one or two roster spots by pairing a few MLB players with some of our depth pitching prospects.

    The reason I like Francis is that it adds a consistent left-handed pitcher to a team that is still vying for the division this year. This might allow us to flip Maholm, who has similar value for the remainder of the season qua pitcher for the Pirates, to another team, because he probably has more trade value than Francis. This avoids a risky longish term contract while mitigating against some of the loss for this year due to Francis (and also mitigates against negative fan reaction to dealing an established MLB player).

    Maybe it makes the most sense to focus on flipping a position player and a prospect for Francis, and then turn around and try to use Maholm to get a bat that can contribute after this year. I don’t want to convolute my already complicated rambling even more, but we might also want to check out what we have in Matt Hague during this roster trial period.

  18. EvilSam says:

    Nate Adcock – 4+ era, 1 win. Not part of Royals 6 man rotation. Just sayin’

  19. BenderHeel says:

    Drew, congrats on your new gig – they must’ve loved your body of work touting the city! (But you forgot Mixon’s on your list of places to see in Bradenton. See, the list is now at SIX!)

    I’d love to see the Pirates add a legit bat – a power bat, preferably – though I’m not going to hold my breath. First, it would require money, and we’ll have to wait and see if Nutting actually will follow through on his promise to add money to the payroll if the team is indeed challenging. Second, they would need another team to dance with, without overpaying in what the PBC needs to give up. Finally, I can see Neal claiming that Pedro and Doumit are, in fact, the very power bats that the fan base is clamoring for. Two problems with that scenario, however: First, they won’t be back any time soon. Second, it’s not like Pedro is a sure thing to count on anyways. Yeah, his production will likely be more than d’Arnaud’s, Wood’s or Harrison’s at the hot corner, but Pedro wasn’t exactly tearing it up before his injury, to say nothing of how he’ll produce after such a lengthy, protracted injury and rehab.

    If they could get JJ Hardy from the Orioles for the rest of this year (he’s an UFA next year), I’d be ecstatic. 10 HR, 29 RBIs in 48 games, with a line of .304/.369/.538/.907. Not too shabby.

  20. Bizrow says:

    What about Mike Cuddyer from the Twins? I think he’s in his walk year, and he can play most positions save SS

    Beltran would be far too expensive, IMHO, both in talent to obtain and remaining salary

  21. Curt says:

    I love the trade chatter. What does everyone think the asking price would be for Carlos Beltran, Hunter Pence or Andre Ethier? I’d say three to four high end prospects.
    How about Derrek Lee? I know the O’s will shop him and he could come cheap. I know he’s aged, but you do not lose anything defensively with him and his gold glove caliber. Plus he’s an upgrade with the stick over Lyle Overbay.

  22. PSU1297 says:

    I’m not sure what more that the ballclub is supposed to say to those asking about making a trade to upgrade the offense. Have they not made it clear that they have inquired about trades but that the asking price has been way too high? What else would we have them do? I can see complaining about it if it were obvious that the FO was just waiting around for the other shoe to drop, but they profess to be actively in search for offensive help. To call them out at this juncture for not doing enough to improve the club misses the mark, IMO.

  23. JMB says:

    I hear you PSU1297, but, in past yrs, we have only been arguing about firing FC / NH, and getting BNut to sell to the team to Cuban or Mario.

    Discussing trades is fun and positive. I have to think this is how most baseball blogs of various teams run.

  24. Drew71 says:

    Yes, Mixon’s. I remembered it, just not its name. And with that, i think we can pretty much safely say that we have listed each and every Bradenton location that Dejan has visited in the last (almost) decade of Spring Trainings.

    And it’s probably superfluous to mention that the beach is NOT on Dejan’s list.

  25. Drew71 says:

    And never will be.

  26. AJS says:

    Wondering about the “Way too expensive” price tags. We have seen how Huntington values his own star players getting in return the likes of Moss, LaRoche, etc. If that is what he thinks he is going to be able to give up to get a good bat then the bucs will never be able to trade for one.

  27. Ryan says:


    If Shero has no intention of trying to keep Kennedy bc of dollar amount or Jagr, he wouldn’t have non-qualified him. He could have planned to cut ties but extended the 10% raise and been compensated down the road when Kennedy signs another offer sheet

  28. aglebagel says:

    So Jose Bautista has become the new “He Who Must Not Be Named”? We need a power bat, so why doesn’t H.H.M.N.B.N just follow in the footsteps of Randle El, Foote, Leftwich, and -hopefully- Jagr and just come on back to the Burgh? :)

    By the way, I’m coming at you from Manhattan, NY. Probably a duplicate, but hey, I was living in Provo, UT when DK switched over, so you could always list that if you really wanted…

  29. BenderHeel says:

    Derrick Lee is a shadow of his former self – just look at his stats this year. Hardy is out-producing him at SS in less games. Maybe Lee would “wake up” if he was back in the NL, but would he be that much of an upgrade over a platoon of Jones (against righties) and Overbay (against lefties)?

    And if we’re talking about Melky Cabrera and Jeff Francoeur, then that just shows how desperate we are. Those guys aren’t legit upgrades over what the PBC currently has. They’re just more expensive veterans whose names we’re familiar with. That’s not exactly a reason to get them, and I’d have to assume that Neal agrees with that assessment.

    And Hunter Pence? Are you serious???? No way the Bucs can afford to give up the prospects that would be required to get Pence as a short-term rental, nor do I think the Astros would want to help a division rival unless said rival was overpaying.

  30. Bizrow says:

    Some potential 2012 FAs, assuming a trade would be a one year stopgap

    1B- Cuddyer, Hawpe, Nady

    SS – Barmes

    OF – Conor Jackson, Willingham, Kubel, Cody Ross

    Lots more but they were “eh” IMHO

  31. Drew71 says:

    Add JJ Hardy to the SS list though with his breakout 2011, if it continues, it would mean buying high and therefore unlikely.

    I’d suggest that Nady falls into the eh category too. Last year and this: OPS in the .600s, average in the .250s, 6 HRs in 2010, 2 so far this season, and injury prone. His magic 2007-2008 seem to be far behind him, and at 33 next year, probably nothing but a pleasant memory.

  32. Dejan Kovacevic says:

    @Comet: Welcome!

    @Joe: A whole bunch of things are being worked on. That’s near the top of the list.

    @All: For those who keep asking, I’m not going to float names out there for trade possibilities. When those can be firmly reported, I see it as fair game.

    @Ryan: The risk of qualifying Kennedy would have been that he takes the team to arbitration and cleans their clock. That’s why he was non-qualified.

  33. Bizrow says:

    I agree with the Nady call, Drew, definitely “eh”

    Maybe they will try to make a deal that will improve the club for more than one year, that opens up many more doors, but will also cost some quality prospects.

    Shades of Shawn Dunston…..

  34. Bizrow says:


    Dupuis signed? Someone at work mentioned he had heard that.

  35. Dejan Kovacevic says:

    @Biz: Yep. Check main site. Been up there for a while.

  36. Drew71 says:

    so what you’re saying, Dejan, is that you’ll post your trade speculation when you make it to the beach

  37. Dejan Kovacevic says:

    @Drew: DREW!

  38. Mason says:

    Pirates Prospects reporting Harrison is on his way to Toronto. Speculating Tabata to DL.

  39. Bizrow says:

    Thanks Dejan, I will learn my way around here sooner or later

    @Mason – the Tabata move is disappointing, but at least we will see what Pressley (I guess I need to learn how to spell his name) can do with hopefully some extended playing time.

  40. DavedigsDKsBlog says:

    Thanks for the info.

    Figured somebody would have to be en route pretty soon to make this evening’s game.

  41. Naje says:

    Tabata to the DL takes him right up to and through the All Star break… best to shut him down now, give him some extra recovery time for his quad and his balky hammy (from a month or so ago), and be ready for that tough stretch of games in late July and through August.

    Looking forward to seeing what Presley can do…

  42. DavedigsDKsBlog says:

    I think MLB should consider tweaking the DL system.

    The way it is right now, if somebody has a tweak that may only keep them out a few games, you still have to lean towards putting that player on the 15-day DL. Too shorthanded to go with four bench players for more than one game, if that.

  43. JAL says:

    DL at 15 days to try to keep teams from abusing the system by putting a player on it just because they want add someone for a series.

  44. DavedigsDKsBlog says:

    There’s a 7-day DL for concussions I believe. I would think for concussions you would want the player to sit out more so there is time for the neurological evaluation.

    I like the 7-day DL better for minor injuries. That’s still two series.

  45. BenderHeel says:

    @DK: If the Pens were truly concerned that Kennedy could get an arbitration award that would “clean their clock,” then they would have the option to simply walk away. They didn’t need to non-tender him at this point to walk away.

  46. bjm says:

    anybody here why Pedro only had one AB today…another setback?

  47. Dejan Kovacevic says:

    @Bender: Fair point. All this might not matter, anyway. Upon further review, it sounds like Kennedy genuinely wants to stay. We’ll see.

  48. Mason says:

    BJM, Pedro had 1 AB yesterday because the game was rained out. Bradenton started at 6PM tonight,

  49. pghboyinca says:

    I like Kennedy and he is a nice piece but if Crosby ands Malkin are healthy a guy like Jagr who is alegitiame finisher would be devastating to other teams to defend. If we add Jagr tot he mix form last year and resign Dupuis and Rupp this team would be beyond potent. Remember Crosby makes everybody better. As much as I hate to wsee Kennedy cut loose I trust Shero.

    The Bucs need to support the effort of thsi teama and Hurdle, but my feeling is show us the money. There are situations where you take a fairly inflated salary for decent prodcuctiivy off a team looking to dump payroll (Dodgers, Astros, Seattle anyone) Do don’t trade away your player assets excange some of that cash they have been raking by tradin gfor a guy making 14 million a year but producing at an 8 million dollar a year range. Over rthe second half of this year it night be a 4 million investment. It would show the fans, your team, and yhur manager that you actually care.

  50. B&C Morning Show: The Mets’ Winning Ways Produce A Winning Record…

    It’s been a long haul for Terry Collins and his Mets ball club, but after last night’s thrashing of the Detroit Tigers, the Mets will wake up this morning with a winning record (40-39) for the first time since April 6, when after a loss to the Phil……

  51. Dejan Kovacevic says:

    @Jimmy: I know that I liked Correia’s 10th win, in particular. Guy had nothing last night. Served up an 88-mph meatball that Bautista destroyed. But when he knew the game was on the line, he took a two-on, no-out mess and walked off the mound with clean hands. I like that. That’s a winner.

    Used as a strict metric, I’m with the stats geeks that W-L doesn’t offer much. But I do think that Correia has pitched like a winner, better than his ERA.

  52. I like how are you thinking…and I must confess I’m totally addicted to your articles!

Other blogs
Sports: Rob Rossi | Steel Mill | Chipped Ice | Bucco Blog | iPreps | Pitt Locker Room | Penn State Sports
News: This Just In | Trib List | ICycle | Flow Back | Stories Behind Trib Stories  

» Top Sports
» Top News
» Top Breaking News